When I first joined Electric House the company was a shambles. No direction and no clear vision. I was met with a bunch of listless individuals, lost in the murky waters of social media. They needed a leader. They needed a handsome leader at that. Enter Scene: George Smith. Young, debonaire, the talk of the town. The kind of guy who could land a plane in an emergency without breaking a sweat and yet has the sensitivity and wisdom of a small parish Vicar.
What is probably closer to the truth is that I was hyperventilating in my car before my first interview, desperate to get the job, panicking that I was going to be seen for a total boob and questioning why I had decided to wear a polo shirt with the top button done up. I looked like I was attending a court hearing for a driving offence.
However, the only thing I was found guilty of on that day, was securing myself the job. Can I get an ‘Amen’? What a magical journey it has been. Gather round parishioners, as I recount a tale as old as time.
It’s easy to forget how new an industry social media is and it is because of this you soon learn the secret, that nobody really has a clue. Nobody knows exactly why some content flies yet other content fizzles. Nobody knows the next viral challenge and most importantly nobody, not even the platforms themselves, knows how the algorithms work. Audience knowledge, platform optimisation, trends, past experience, it’s all a huge help but ultimately it all comes down to a gamble.
I‘ve never had a clear idea of what I wanted to do in life. After leaving university I can think of no end to the number of careers I decided were ‘the one’. The list is not limited to: Radio DJ, Chef, Social Worker, Writer, Psychologist, Film Director. The latter being despite never once having picked up a camera in my life. I was clinically thick.
For someone interested in lots of different things, social media is the perfect industry for all of the reasons described above. The fragments of retained, seemingly useless, information and the endless hours spent trawling the internet, can all now be legitimately categorised as ‘work-related’. I can think of countless creative meetings when something has been born out of somebody saying, “I saw this thing”. Despite there being no magic solution in social, what always pays off is the perseverance to give something a go.
Of course, this creative freedom can be a gift and a curse. It’s easy to mistake your audience’s taste for your own, get carried away with an idea that isn’t the right fit and ultimately, the audience is always right. Similarly, it is sometimes difficult to negotiate the interests of a client as you try to make them understand why the Cha Cha Slide Part 3 isn’t a good idea.
Social media hasn’t been built by brands, it has been built by individuals. Individuals telling their stories and finding their niche. This principle of authenticity is why traditional media is doomed to forever play catch-up. Social media will continue to allow communities to find their place and it is the potential of these communities that make it such an exciting industry to be involved with. I don’t think anyone could honestly predict where it will be ten years from now. Just think about it. It’s enough to put hairs on your pencil.
PS: Must stop making references to oneself as a man of the cloth
PPS: The Cha Cha Slide Part 3 might actually be a good idea – please redact
– George Smith, Social Media Coordinator